How do autistic college students make sense of their identities and how does being autistic shape their trajectory in college? This presentation explores some of the findings from a study that Dr. Nachman conducted with autistic community college students enrolled in an autism-specific college support program in the United States. Main findings, as illustrated in an original identity development model, follows how the discovery of students’ disabilities, pathways toward independence, and level of engagement in the autism community contribute to their sense of identity as autistic college students.
Dr Brett Ranon Nachman, PhD, serves as the assistant professor in Adult and Lifelong Learning at the University of Arkansas and director of research for College Autism Network. As an autistic autism/higher education researcher, Brett is committed to illuminating the unique and holistic experiences that autistic college students face. He has published his work in journals including The Review of Higher Education, College Student Affairs Journal, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and Community College Journal of Research and Practice. His honors include being awarded a Spencer Foundation Large Research Grant, the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and an ECMC Foundation Postsecondary CTE Research Fellowship.